Every now and then a patient will come in with symptoms of a urinary tract infection. They tell me that maybe they’ve been drinking a little too much alcohol, not drinking enough water, and perhaps eating foods that are known bladder irritants. All these things can throw off the delicate pH balance of the bladder environment and contribute to getting a urinary tract infection. When this happens, I may have to prescribe antibiotics or other medications to help clear the infection.
As I tell my patients who come in with these types of infections, there are simple, specific things you can do, foods you can eat, on an everyday basis that will keep your bladder naturally healthy and help prevent infections and other conditions. Here’s what I recommend:
Keep Your Bladder Healthy
If you’re like most of my patients, the last thing you’re probably thinking of during your busy day is how to keep your bladder healthy! Well, turns out, if you practice general good hygiene, eat a healthy diet, exercise and drink enough water, you’re already doing just about everything you need to do.
Your bladder is the holding organ for “waste water” (urine) that contains a lot of elements that your kidneys have filtered out of your blood stream and wants to remove from your body. Depending on what you eat, drink, medications, and even supplements that you take, your kidneys and bladder are removing a lot of waste from your body every day. In order to you’re your bladder healthy try doing the following:
➢ Drink enough water – Drinking enough water every day is critical to your overall health. It helps remove all the toxins from your body through urine and waste. It also keeps the urine diluted and keeps your kidneys and you well-hydrated!
➢ Stay Regular – Becoming constipated is almost always a result of not drinking enough water and/or taking certain medications, notably prescription pain pills. Chronic constipation can also put pressure on the bladder causing it to fall forward and/or stretch muscles and ligaments that support it. Get between 25-35 grams of fiber a day.
➢ Eat Bladder Healthy Foods – Urine should stay slightly more acidic to kill bacteria that can collect. Foods like cranberries, bananas, yogurt, and whole wheat bread help keep a healthy pH in the bladder.
➢ Maintain Good Hygiene – Bacteria can enter the bladder/urinary tract system, especially in women, through inadequate bowel hygiene. Always be sure to move bathroom tissue away from your urethra, the tube that passes urine from your body.
➢ Avoid Irritants – Many foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and change the pH in it so that it becomes more susceptible to bacterial infections. Things like chocolate, caffeine, too much alcohol, carbonated sodas, citrus juice, tomatoes, sugar, and artificial sweeteners are known bladder irritants. If you have chronic bladder irritation, you should avoid these items until you get your bladder pH back under control and then re-add these foods slowly, and moderately, if at all.
➢ Get Enough Exercise – Believe it or not, adequate aerobic exercise every day, or at least 4 times a week, can help keep your bladder, and the rest of you, healthy. Exercise keeps the ligaments and muscles supporting your bladder and ureters strong so that they don’t stretch and cause the bladder to fall forward or backward which often times requires surgery, a cystopexy, to repair. Weight training helps keep your pelvic floor muscles strong and working correctly.
➢ Kegel Exercises – These are specific exercises that target the pelvic floor. These are not just for women! Men can benefit from pelvic floor strengthening the same way women do. The simplest way to do a Kegel exercise is to lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat up under your thighs. Consciously pull your genital/urinary muscles in, as if you were trying to hold off urinating. Hold for a count of 30 seconds, then release. Repeat several times a day. Strengthening the pelvic floor can help incontinence and passing urine when laughing, sneezing, and coughing. They also help preserve sexual function!
➢ Bladder Friendly Supplements – As I mentioned earlier, cranberry keeps the bladder pH slightly more acidic which helps it kill bacteria. Vitamin C, a strong antioxidant, fights free radical damage to all your cells, including your bladder. A few herbs like Uva Ursi, Cat’s Claw and corn silk help keep the bladder and kidneys toned and draining urine well. FOS, FructoOligoSaccharide, also helps the bladder fight bacteria buildup.
➢ Intimacy Hygiene – Maintaining good urinary tract hygiene after sexual intimacy can help prevent bacteria from entering the bladder through the urethra. Try to hold urinating until after intimacy so as to flush any bacteria out of the urethra.
Your bladder is a very important part of your natural detoxification system. It moves the final waste products from your kidneys out of your body. Make sure that waste transport is working optimally all the time. The above are some rather simple recommendations on how to keep your bladder working correctly and disease free to ensure that both you and your bladder stay naturally healthy!